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Saturday, April 30, 2016

What happens if you don't "mind the gap"?

It happened last August near Perth, in Western Australia. A man boarding a rush-hour train at Sterling Station forgot to "mind the gap." He slipped and one foot became wedged between the train and the platform. According to Transperth spokesman David Hynes, "We alerted the driver to make sure the train didn't move." Then Transperth staff got everyone off the train and organized them to tilt the carriage backwards away from the platform, as shown here.


The man's leg was saved when fellow passengers tilted the 10,000 ton train, which was squeezing him limb. An ambulance was called, but he did not require hospitalization. "Everyone pitched in," said Hynes. "It was people power that saved someone from possibly quite serious injury."

Friday, April 29, 2016

"unexplainable by western science"

Is it possible that "giving" is good medicine? Brice Royer of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, thinks so. He was diagnosed in 2012 with a rare type of stomach cancer. At first he contemplated suicide, but then he read scientific studies about healing with love, so instead of being depressed, he launched a year of random acts of kindness.

                                                                                                                    Arlen Redekop / PNG

Among other good deeds, he spent last winter raising $25,000 to buy a home for a single mom and her daughter. He arranged for delivery of organic vegetables to the shelter where she stayed. He gave money to strangers who needed help with rent. On April 14, his caregiver wheeled him to his doctor to get the results of an MRI. Here he is receiving the news, which the doctor called "unexplainable by western science." The cancer is gone.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

9-year-old raises money for his own adoption

Donnie and Jimmy Davis of Springfield, MO, have been Tristan Jacobson's legal guardians since he was five, but never had enough disposable income to pay adoption fees and make him their "real" son. They started an online fundraising account, but it only attracted $60, so they decided to save by cutting costs. Donnie stopped getting her hair and nails done. They switched to prepaid cell phones. Finally they held a yard sale, getting rid of anything they didn't need. Tristan wanted to help, so he sold lemonade. A local paper did a story about his lemonade stand. So did a TV station.

                                                                         Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader, via AP
On the weekend of the yard sale, more than 600 people appeared. One couple drove over two hours. Tristan's lemonade only cost $1 a glass, but many customers paid $20. By day's end, the family had earned $6,500, mostly from lemonade sales. It's more than enough to pay for Tristan's adoption. And the online fundraising page that was stuck at $60? It grew to $11,374. Tristan really wanted to be adopted, and he's thrilled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"My message is to be kind to others." Maya Delgado

Maya Delgado of Dallas, TX, is home-schooled in the morning, and plays the guitar, sings, dances and acts in the afternoon at the elite Septien Entertainment Group, whose alumni include Selena Gomez and Jessica Simpson. She's only nine years old, but she already knows there are lots of talented children from military families who want to pursue the arts but can't afford to.

                                                                                                                         Photo credit: WFAA
"So I begged my parents and said, 'Please can I have a 501 C-3 to help these very amazing and talented kids?' They finally said 'Yes' and I was so happy." She wasn't sure what to call her charity until she noticed a beautiful picture of hearts she painted when she was five. "I saw my painting and I thought, Hearts of Maya." The charity's board of advisors are all young people and so far it has given away thousands of dollars in scholarships. One recipient was Isaac Smith, who acts and dances. He explains, "You have older people and adults that do this, and the fact that she is a little girl and can do all of this is amazing." To learn more, visit heartsofmaya.org

Sunday, April 24, 2016

100 year old grandmother evicted from apartment

It happened April 1, but it was no joke. That's the day Evelyn Heller, 100 and partly deaf, defended herself in a Palm Desert, CA, courtroom against an eviction notice. Her landloard, Deep Canyon Desert LLC, wanted her to move out because she had loud arguments with her daughter and her apartment was a mess. The judge agreed with the landlord and evicted Heller, who said she had no money and didn't want to burden on her grandchildren. "They don't have room for me," she said.

                                                                                                        The Desert Sun / USA Today
Heller's eviction was front page news in The Desert Sun, and dozens of readers called to help. Many offered small donations. A local nursing home offered to let her skip their waiting list. A man from Georgia offered to let her use his spare bedroom. And Congressman Paul Ruiz introduced her to Adult Protective Services, which helped her find a new apartment. But could she afford it? Yes, thanks to a gift from millionaire philanthropist Tony Robbins. He offered her $1,000 each month for the next two years. Why? "I wanted her to not have to worry forever," he said. "At this stage in her life, it's a joy for me to give her that sense of stability and security."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Would we have done what Nicole did?

It happened in Apple Valley, Minnesota, on a day when the thermometer read 10 degrees and there was a freezing wind. Nicole Marie Heintz was at a service station filling her car with gas when she noticed a man at a nearby pump. He was wearing flip-flops and seemed to be crying. In his car, she saw his wife in the front seat with her face in her hands and two teenage girls crowded under a blanket in the back seat. Without hesitating, she asked him, "is something the matter?" He didn't try to hide his tears when he said, "I can't provide for my family." She told him "Jesus Christ the son of God died to provide for you," and then she backed up her claim by buying his gas.

His wife came around the car to ask her husband what's going on, and he told her "this lady just paid for our gas." She started crying and came round to shake Nicole's hand, and she was dressed in dirty old clothes. Nicole asked her to come to her car and pick from a pile of clothes she was about to give to charity. The lady RAN back to her car and got her teenage daughters. "They were digging through my clothes, layering my sweatshirts and sweatpants over the worn clothes they were wearing. This attracted a little crowd. An older man gave the family a gift card. Another man gave his jacket to the father. They all were complete strangers. Nicole said, "It gives me hope. The love of God can be so contagious!"

Friday, April 22, 2016

Gratitude is good for business

Seer Interactive, a digital marketing company with offices on both coasts, believes gratitude is good for business. In their lobby, the firm has a display of thank-you cards. Any employee (or visitor) is welcome to take a card and a postage stamp, both for free.

                                                                                                                             Seer Interactive
"We want everyone to be able to send a thank-you note anytime," says company founder Wil Reynolds. "If your grandma did something for you, your parent or a client or co-worker, pick up a note and send that card." Maybe this is an idea other companies should embrace?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Canadian police learn to subdue inner foes

Threats faced by police are not always thieves, murderers or drug dealers. Sometimes the biggest dangers are stress, anxiety and tension. To better meet external threats, Peel Regional Police in Ontario, Canada, are learning how to subdue these inner dangers through meditation.

                                                                                                                                     Facebook
On April 18, they visited the West End Buddhist Temple and Meditation Center in Mississauga for a taste of Buddhist philosophy and a lesson in meditation. The training was led by deputy abbot Bhante Saranapala, who conducts similar sessions on mindfulness meditation for school teachers, students and young professionals. Why train police? "They are doing a stressful job," he wrote on the Center's Facebook page. "I am delighted that I was able to share some insights by giving spiritual support to help them continue their daily service with a peaceful mind."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How can we know "what hath God wrought?"

During the 1840s, Samuel Morse invented a system for transmitting messages by code over a wire laid between senders and receivers. It was called the Morse Code. To see if his invention worked, Morse sent the first message over an experimental line from Washington DC to Baltimore, Maryland, in May of 1844. Transmitted as a series of dots and dashes (or dits and dahs), it asked, "What hath God wrought?"  Here's the code used to send this message.
Years later, a busy telegraph office needed more operators. Those interested met at the office and waited to apply. Suddenly one man stood up, went to the receptionist and said, "I'll take the job." And he was hired! When others asked why he did this, he explained that while he was waiting he heard a Morse code message over the PA system that said, "The first person to hear and decipher this message has the job." Maybe his behavior can teach us a lesson! Perhaps if we really want to know "what hath God wrought," we need to listen closely, hear His message and decipher it correctly?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"He gave us lessons...in love."

The Hockaday School is an elite private school for girls in Dallas, Texas. For the past 30 years, Kafleab Tekle (known as Kief) was a security guard at the school. Working in the parking lot, he helped students in and out of cars in the carpool lane. He was the first face students saw upon arrival, and the last one they saw before going home. And he actually remembered every student's name, and her parents' names, and their make of car and license plate number. During his career, he welcomed thousands of kindergartners to their first day of class, and bid farewell to thousands of graduates.

Emily Frisby with Kief on her first day of school, and recently.

This year, after Kief announced his retirement, the Class of 2005 started a GoFundMe account to raise $2,005 as a farewell gift. But word soon spread and nearly 2,000 Hockaday graduates have contributed $185,000. Why the outpouring of gratitude? One graduate told Kief, "Everyone felt like your favorite because you had such an ability to make people feel special. No struggling student felt forgotten in your presence." The headmistress of Hockaday, Liza Lee, calls Kief a treasure. "For thirty years, he was emperor of the parking lot, and for all those years, he has been the heart and soul of Hockaday. He has given us lessons in grace, lessons in courtesy and lessons in love."


Monday, April 18, 2016

A birthday gift she'll never forget

"Police are people too," says Bloomington, IN, police Sergeant Brandon Lopossa. "It's rewarding to see people happy." That's why, as reported in the Herald-Times, he secretly agreed to pull over Abigail Guthrie as she drove to her 17th birthday party recently. Abigail's parents were passengers in the car, and had arranged in advance for Sgt. Lopossa to flash his lights and pull her over for an alleged turn signal violation.

                                                                                                                     Troy Guthrie / YouTube
She'd had her driver's license for about a year, and this was her first "offense." Her Dad warned her that their insurance rates would go up if she got a ticket. That's when Sgt. Lopossa returned to the car and presented a ticket, but it had no court date. It was the birthday gift she dreamed about for months -- a ticket to an upcoming Justin Bieber concert in Louisville, KY. It almost made her cry with joy. Abigail's Dad secretly taped the entire episode and uploaded it to YouTube. To see Abigail's reaction, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pe3FARPdaY

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Today's crumb from a reader in Canada

Mark Landry is homeless. He lives in Montreal, Canada, and he's played the violin since he was 17. He has no home, but he earns a modest income by playing his violin in the Montreal Metro transit system. While he was sleeping one recent night, someone stole his violin. His instrument was gone, but not his faith. He said he knew, "God's gonna give me a new one."

                                                                                                                                          CBC
Landry made a hand-lettered sign saying his violin was stolen, and held it as he sat silently where he usually played. Someone put his photo on Facebook, and when they saw it, the members of Orchestre Metropolitain got in touch with a local violin shop and bought him a new one. They hand delivered the new Gewa violin with a new case and bow to Landry on April 12, and his first words were, "God bless you."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"The good Lord put us there....."

Leonard Wallace and his wife Rosemary caught their limit recently while fishing for brook trout in Fox Pond in Hancock County, Maine. They caught a mother and two children. They'd only been fishing at the remote site 15 minutes when a woman (whose name was not released) failed to negotiate a sharp curve on Rt. 182, sending her car over the bank and into the pond, where it sank. It went right over Leonard's head, and when his wife yelled that there were children in the car, he put down his fishing pole, jumped into the 48 degree water, opened the car door and pulled the victims to shore.

                                                                                                      Maine State Police / Facebook
"We got them in our car where it was warm, and bundled them up," he said. Police later reported the mother and both children are doing fine. State troopers noted there is no cell phone reception at Fox Pond and the sunken car would not have been seen by passing motorists. Had the couple not been fishing in that spot that day, police believe the story could have turned tragic. How does Leonard feel about the coincidence? "It just happened to be that the good Lord put us there fishing," he said.

Friday, April 15, 2016

A real slam-dunk moment

The Metro Deaf School in St. Paul, MN, could not afford a cafeteria. Meals were catered, and students sat at their desks to eat lunch. But that all changed this year, when Zach LaVine, a guard on the Minnesota Timberwolves, won the NBA's Slam Dunk Contest for the second time. He admits, "The biggest part for me growing up was interacting with kids during lunch time and recess, and he'd taken American Sign Language classes in high school and college, and he decided to use $10,000 of his Slam Dunk winnings to build a cafeteria at the Metro Deaf School, so students would have someplace to "hang out with each other."

                                                                                                                                        Twitter
But Zach didn't just mail a check to the school. He actually showed up in person on opening day to serve lunch to the students who were amazed to discover their cafeteria hero also knew sign language. When the kids started telling each other, "He knows how to sign!" it was a slam-dunk moment for everyone.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

"I just realize God..."

Legendary screen and TV star Doris Day celebrated her 92nd birthday on April 3 by catering a dinner for a dozen of her closest friends. Even though she's been retired from show business for many years, she still gets film offers, and still has her well-remembered bubbly personality.

                                                                                                                                         CWBPR
Born into a Catholic family Doris Kapppelhoff grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. She says she never felt a deep connection with religion until her second husband introduced her to Christian Science, after which she gave up excessive smoking and drinking. She says her new faith "brought spirituality into my life that would sustain me through some very dark times. I'd been thinking that I should be happier than I am...One ought to be able to control one's thinking instead of having depressions...I didn't want that kind of life but I didn't know how to change it." Moving away from more fundamental Christian Science beliefs later in life, she did periodically seek medical treatment, but her relationship with her religion has remained important to her. "I don't have to seek God," she says. "I don't pray. I just realize God."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

If life gives you lemons...

When Mikaila (shown below) was only four, her family encouraged her to make a product for a children's business fair. She had some ideas, but two things suddenly happened. She was stung by a bee, and her great-grandmother sent a 1940's cookbook with a special recipe for flaxseed lemonade. Mikaila decided to learn more about helping bees, and use her family recipe to make and sell lemonade containing Texas wildflower honey, flaxseed and mint.

                                                                                                                     beesweetlemonade.com
She started a small lemonade stand, donating a portion of her profits to organizations devoted to saving honeybees. Her motto was, "Buy a Bottle...Save a Bee." Since then, her lemonade has become so popular that it's now available at Whole Foods Market and a growing number of restaurants. Today, at the ripe old age of 11, she leads workshops on how to save honeybees. If you'd like to buy a bottle and save a bee, visit her Web site, http://beesweetlemonade.com/

Monday, April 11, 2016

For the love of kittens...

Sanitation workers in Palm Beach County, FL, who were processing garbage recently are being praised for finding four baby kittens trapped in a tied plastic bag. The four-week old kitties were starving and suffering from parasites when found on April 4.

                                                                                                        Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue
The kittens were taken to the Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue in Royal Palm Beach, where they are being bottle-fed and are expected to make a full recovery. They should be available for adoption within a month, and homes will hopefully be waiting for the celebrity cats. Since going from trash to treasure, they've been named after gemstones. The three boys are Garnet, Jet and Topaz, and their sister is Ruby.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

For the love of puppies...

What do old folks in a retirement home have in common with jocks lifting weights in a gym and boys and girls in elementary school? They all love puppies. The video linked below was filmed in these three locations, before and after puppies were introduced unexpectedly. Most dog-owners will not be surprised. They know their pets can reduce anxiety and stress, fight off loneliness and depression, and keep their owners in better physical shape. But these may just be words to you, until you click on the video linked here. Then you'll understand the power of puppies. Enjoy! www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJoE_lNQdHU

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lifeguard feels "a wave of strength"

Mary Stewart, shown below, is studying to become a nurse. In addition, she's a runner, a surfer, and a lifeguard supervisor with the Galveston Island (Texas) Beach Patrol. While patrolling the beach on March 26, she saw five swimmers who were too far out in the choppy water to swim back.

                                                                                                                             KHOU News
She and a fellow lifeguard brought three of them to safety, but the remaining man and boy panicked and were terrified and almost drowning when she reached them. They began to overpower her, and she had to fight to stay in control. She says she then experienced "a wave of strength." She kept telling them not to give up, because no life is worth giving up on. She was determined not to fail them, and when another lifeguard came to her aid, each swimmer was assisted safely to shore. She said the rescue taught her, "don't give up on yourself or anyone else, because in the end its worth it. I'm thankful I can be here to share my story."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

"They treated me with dignity."

The homeless population of Austin, Texas, jumped 20% last year, so a local nonprofit called Mobile Loaves and Fishes opened an unusual housing project. Only homeless individuals are eligible to apply for one of the 140 micro-homes in a 27-acre RV park in eastern Travis County. Mobile Loaves and Fishes is Christian-based, but welcomes homeless folks of any faith or no faith.


Rents begin at $225 a month, and most "homes" are really only bedrooms with decks. Residents share kitchens, laundry and bathrooms. The rent includes access to two case managers, a food pantry, a chapel, a dog park, garden spaces, a medical center and an amphitheater where outdoor movies are shown. Perhaps most important, each resident gets his or her own postal address. Residents do jobs to keep the community running smoothly. Bonnie is a good example. She is a blind, veteran amputee who lived on the streets of Austin for years. Today, as a resident, she works as a tour guide and gardener. "I was embarrassed, wet and dirty," she said, "but they helped me clean up; gave me dry clothes, fed me and prayed with me. They treated me with dignity."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Nine-year-old reporter scoops "grown-up" journalists

Selinsgrove, PA, has about 5,000 residents. Their only local paper is the Orange Street News, which Hilde Kate Lysiak (pictured below) started two years ago when she was seven, using crayons. At first it was a family paper, and her first exclusive story featured the birth of her baby sister, but within a year she was covering borough council meetings. That's when the Columbia Journalism Review featured her in an article which asked, "Is this 8-year-old's newspaper better than yours?" Her Orange Street News now has a Web site, Facebook page and YouTube channel, where her 12-year-old sister handles photos and videos.

                                                                                                             Isabel Rose Lysiak via AP
People in Selinsgrove know Hilde, and that's why someone gave her a tip last weekend which she was able to confirm with law enforcement. Under the headline EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET! she wrote that a man allegedly murdered his wife with a hammer and police were not yet releasing details. When she posted the story and video clip on the Orange Street News Web site (hours before other media reached the scene), her Facebook page and YouTube channel quickly clogged with negative comments. "Nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters," one person wrote. "Whatever happened to tea parties?" asked another. But the criticism did not discourage her. Will she write a follow-up story about the murder. "You'll have to see the next issue of the Orange Street News," she says. To do that, click on http://orangestreetnews.com/

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Policeman cheers up homeless child

It happened on Wednesday, March 16. Huntington Beach, CA, police officer Scott Marsh spotted what appeared to be a suspicious car parked in a lot at Cross Park. Investigating, he discovered the car was "home" to a young homeless mother and her 11-year-old daughter. As Marsh interviewed the mother to help arrange housing for her, Officer Zach Pricer focused on the homeless child. He knew a police officer can seem scary to an 11-year-old, so he decided to gain her trust by teaching her to play hopscotch, or as he calls it, copscotch. She had never played it before.

                                                                                 Huntington Beach Police Department
Pricer's partner shot a video of the encounter and uploaded it to the police department Facebook page where it's been viewed nearly a million times, receiving thousands of positive comments. "I had to check the child's welfare, so I had to earn her trust and get her comfortable with me first," Pricer said. Once he got her to open up, he was amazed by her happy-go-lucky attitude. "Despite having nearly nothing, she was offering me everything she had to play with. It was amazing to see how thankful she was for what she did have. She was very gracious."

Monday, April 4, 2016

Father and daughter pray together

Rihanna Tillett, age 6, is growing up in rural Orleans, Indiana, where her Dad, Jeff Tillett, is a reserve police officer. One evening recently, Jeff was suiting up for work when Rihanna put on her own smaller version of a police uniform so she could go with him. She didn't expect to join him on the job, but she just wanted to "be like Dad." Jeff and his wife Korisha have talked with Rihanna about the dangers of police work. The little girl knows bad things can happen, but she understands that if her Dad leaves this world before she does, God promises they will be reunited in heaven. So before he went to work this evening, they prayed together. Korisha snapped their photo and uploaded it to Facebook where it garnered 46,000 shares and 188,000 likes.

                                                                                                                                        Facebook
Jeff Tillett says his family is a praying family. They pray together so that, no matter what happens, Christ will find them worthy to be together eternally. In this picture, he and Rihanna asked the Lord to protect him and everyone he encounters, so that all may go home safe, because all lives matter.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A totally surprising pay-it-forward story

It all began on a cold winter day in 2013 in Dwight, Illinois. Wade Herter was a homeless drifter, freezing in a blizzard when two high school students, Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat asked if they could help him. Herter said he needed to get to Springfield to see his ill father. Without knowing if he was telling the truth, the teens brought him warm clothes and a train ticket to Springfield. They made sure he got on the train, and then forgot about him.

But Herter never forgot their kindness. When his father passed away, Herter was shocked to learn that he'd left him a $1.2 million estate. This inheritance helped him get back on his feet and move to California where he now does film work and (as pictured here) stand-up comedy.

Last month the principal of Dwight Township High School, Dan Kaiser, received a letter from Herter, recalling the kindness shown him three years ago, and enclosing a check for $10,000. Herter only asked that the school use the money to honor his father.

It was the first time the school was aware what Arnold and Kodat had done, and Principal Kaiser knew immediately how to spend the donation. He created the "Herter Pay It Forward Award." Every year, as long as possible, the donation will award a student in the small town of Dwight a $500 prize....for performing a random act of kindness. And who will judge the nominations each spring? Who else?  Luke Arnold and Ryan Kodat.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A positive side-effect

Church attendance is declining in the United States. Does this mean institution-weary Americans are now praying privately to solve their problems, or to help others? As terrorism becomes a global threat and political compromise a distant memory, nearly a third of Millennials are  now secular, and 20% say they are "not spiritual at all,"making them the least religious generation in the past 50 years. Which begs the question:


"There's a greater willingness now to say, 'I'm not religious,'" says Christian Smith of the University of Notre Dame. But he explains that this trend has a positive side-effect. "For people who do continue to practice religion, (their communities) tend to be made up of the seriously committed, not just those swept along by obligation." In these communities, the answer may still be "yes."

Friday, April 1, 2016

"Does my life really matter?"

That's the question George Bailey asked in the classic Frank Capra film, "Its a Wonderful Life." The movie was so unpopular when released in 1946 that the studio never renewed its copyright, which meant TV stations could soon play it free. After 20 years, it suddenly became a holiday hit, and in 1980 reporters began calling Karolyn Grimes, who is now 75, to ask, "Did you play ZuZu Bailey in that film?" She admitted she was George Bailey's six-year-old with the wilted rose petals. Her part in the movie lasted only six minutes, but her final words, spoken in the scene shown here, became famous. "Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings!"

                                                                                                                       Hulton Archives/Getty
Grimes' life after the movie was "wonderful" because it taught her tragedy equips us to help others. Her Mom died when she was 14, and her Dad was killed one year later in a car accident. Raised by relatives, she went to college and became a medical technologist. After having two daughters, she and her husband divorced and then he was killed while deer hunting. When she remarried a few years later, she and her second husband had a combined total of six kids, until her 18-year-old son committed suicide. This tragedy deeply affected her husband, who she nursed for a year until he died of cancer. By now, she had retired from medical work and suffered a financial setback in the recession of 2000, so she went on the road as an advocate of "It's a Wonderful Life." Her third husband, psychologist Chris Brunell, has supported her in this role for more than 15 years.

Does she feel her life was worth living? Yes. And why? Because people she meets from coast to coast often cry when telling how much the movie helped them. One man in his 40's said that as a boy he wanted to kill himself. He loaded his Dad's rifle and took it to his bedroom, but he decided not to fire the gun inside the house. As he was leaving the house with the rifle, he noticed "It's a Wonderful Life" playing on TV. He stopped to watch, and when the movie ended, he put his Dad's rifle back on the gun rack and never considered suicide again."

Grimes explains why the movie still heals grief today. "It's not about Christmas, not about Jesus," she says. "It's about how we have to face life with a lot of uncertainty, and even though nobody hears it, most of us ask God to show us the way when things get really hard, and like in the film, it can be in Martini's Bar, not in a church." After you see the 5-minute interview with Karolyn linked here, I bet you'll glance toward the sky and say, "Atta boy, Clarence!"  www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaGOEahHdE4